Our very own David Allais recently sat down for an interview with GS1, a nonprofit organization that develops and maintains global standards for business communications. Since 1974, David, a well-known figure in the world of barcode technologies, has been a member of GS1’s Barcode and Identification Technology Group, which first established the EAN/UPC barcode symbol.
Touching on his early career work at IBM, David notes how it led him to a startup company, Interface Mechanisms (eventually renamed Intermec, now Honeywell), where he went to work on barcode technology. David shared how the opportunity to print proprietary barcode labels for a library circulation system opened the door for adoption of the UPC standard by the US grocery industry.
As David notes in his interview with GS1, the barcode label printers developed by Intermec “led to what we have today where high-quality barcode symbols are produced on-demand by laser printers, thermal printers and ink jet printers. It’s different from a printing press that just turns out hundreds of thousands of identical labels. If a retailer is selling meat, cheese or produce by the pound, every package is different and needs a different code. So that gave us tremendous opportunity, once the UPC was standardized, for providing demand for printers for UPC.”
This fascinating interview proceeds to discuss how open standards led to rapid adoption of the technology, which ultimately resulted in the FACT data identification system. He shares with GS1 that “the U.S. military standardized on my Code 39 and required it on all inbound materials. Then, within about two years, companies in the U.S. automotive industry had their own requirements involving Code 39.” He goes on to share that “a barcode today has a manufacturer number combined with its item number on a product – and it’s unique worldwide. It turned out to be a very simple concept with far-reaching implications.”
In the years that followed, David’s work with this “simple concept” helped grow Intermec from a small startup into the leading manufacturer of barcode scanning and printing equipment as the company’s chairman, president and CEO. After 19 years with Intermec, David founded PathGuide (formerly known as Applied Tactical Systems) in 1989, initially providing clients with consulting services, systems design and integration including barcode and custom software installations.
To read more from GS1’s conversation with David, please click here.
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